Whether you’re running a small nonprofit organization or a multi-million dollar business, fundraising is as much a part of the game as sales, marketing, accounting and human resources. The best way to find fundraising success is through big numbers. That is, you’ll want to keep a full funnel of prospective funders that you continuously update as you search for the right investors for your business. If you’ve never done any fundraising, or the idea of going through this terrifies you, don’t worry. Here are a few easy steps to help you get started raising funds while you keep a strong funnel of prospective funders.
Start by creating a spreadsheet with all your potential investors. Include columns for social media profiles, AngelList profiles, related investments, typical check sizes, total number of investments per year and leave extra space for notes. Then, as you search for more potential investors, you’ll have this handy spreadsheet to fill in with all the pertinent information. It’s a good idea to back this up or store it on the cloud, so it’s something you can always access, no matter where your business travels may take you.
Cold calls are usually a bad idea. The best place to start is through your own network. Look through your founders, mentors, and find a handful of people who are willing to roll up their sleeves to help you raise funds. If you don’t have much of a business network, try reaching out through something like LinkedIn so you can find different paths to investors. Keep strong notes on each connection so you can easily explain how you found someone. Look for people who often invest in other organizations; get your friends to make introductions to anyone that may be of help to you, and document everything carefully so you can always refer back.
Now you’ll start treating this process just like a sales process. Each line on your spreadsheet is a new lead, and you’ll want to work it just like a sales lead. Keep careful notes on every conversation you have and make sure to document your funders’ processes for getting a check. If you’re setting up lots of meetings, this spreadsheet will also help you prepare and track each conversation you have. It’s crucial that you manage all aspects of the fundraising process and continually update your funder funnel. As you continue to grow, so too will your funnel, so this task should be one that lasts the lifetime of your business.
This article was written by Deborah Flomberg for Small Business Pulse